Flipping the Political Script
A businessman and philanthropist interested in providing a pathway to permanent residence for the “Dreamers” – young people who were brought illegally to America by their parents when they were small children.
Immigration is a polarizing issue, but when President Trump signaled a surprising openness to a pathway to legal status for Dreamers, we sought to present the case for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to a conservative audience. Dreamers tend to be high educational achievers and hard workers, and we decided to tell the quintessentially American story of how these immigrants have assimilated quickly and the cultural and economic benefits they provide to the United States every day.
With the 2016 election, immigration as an issue had reached a fever pitch with, and most pro-immigration advocates were very partisan and very opposed to the Republican Party. To tell this story, we needed to find a subject and a partner that simultaneously believed in the importance of sound immigration policy while also understanding the need to message credibly and responsibly to conservative audiences.
Polling showed Dreamers tend to be upwardly mobile, patriotic and willing to work hard to achieve their goals. These are characteristics that resonate across the political spectrum, and we focused on those attributes in building out a strategy and tactics to win hearts and minds.
We were connected with Bernardo Castro via our friends at the National Immigration Forum, a nonpartisan group focused on achieving immigration reform. At the time, Bernardo was an Eagle Scout and college student with a full-time job. He spoke of his love for the United States and his desire to stay here, work, and eventually raise a family.
Bernardo lived in Utah, and we set out to produce an evocative piece of visual creative that amplified his story in the context of the Rocky Mountains of the American West. In a quote from the video, Bernardo demonstrates its theme: “There really is no bigger privilege (than) to be in America, to have that ability to work and be able to provide for your family.”
We built a custom media buy to target religious and pro-business Republican voters with Bernardo’s story via various digital and social media platforms, while working with the Forum to amplify the creative across its owned channels and via its network of reform-minded immigration advocates around the country.
Bernardo appeared in various news broadcasts, especially as the DACA issue heated up in DC. Engagement metrics on our paid media effort overperformed our benchmarks by 6-7 times, and anecdotal feedback was strong.
The video was nominated for various public affairs awards and represented Dezenhall’s first major pivot to top-tier video creative.
Despite an uncertain legal outlook, DACA remains the law of the land as a temporary executive action, ten years after the program was first created under the Obama Administration.